Monday, April 13, 2009

Dragon Books

Well, I have at least 7 books worth of book cover designs printed up and resting on my drying rack. This photo was tweaked a little bit in photoshop as one of my fluorescent lights on my drafting table washed the gold and burgundy hues out to a silvered gold against chocolate type pallet. This image is similar to what the real thing looks like. I didn't bother with the scanner as it usually doesn't do well with light reflecting metallics.
After I had measured out the pieces of paper to cut from one big sheet, I labored over the decision to draw a "registration panel" on the back of each one with a bone folder. As with all producers the question is whether or not such a step will interfere with the price of the final product. Will spending enough time to bone folder each and every print for registration really leave me with a comfortable feeling about pricing each book at $25.00? I finally decided that if I didn't do this step it would effect the price in that it would take me longer to measure each individual print after the fact. I was glad I did it because one set of papers was an eighth of an inch shorter than the rest. This would not effect the end quality of the book but it would be a beast to register during gluing. As with all handmades, the prints themselves jogged ever so slightly in registration due to the fact that registration guides were temporarily taped to the original papers instead of sacrificing an inch of paper. Having laid out my registration panels though made the job easier as now I only have to account for little adjustments lining up the papers for gluing to the boards. Binding will be another story all together. It is more a methodical practice, coptic binding. You simply sit down on the porch on a nice day or play your favorite album and commence sewing. I even think that maybe I will bring some unfinished ones to the market so that people will be able to watch me make the books. We'll see. There is also the matter of the stamp. I will be carving stamps to place on the inside of each first and last page as a sort of seal. The will be at least 3"X3" I hope.
I have been timidly going about the business of carving the Limulus itself. I am very afraid of screwing up the image after dealing so carefully with the detailed border. I found a few images of specimen Limulus that look like they've been shellacked to have a permanently wet looking surface. My goal was to generally carve out hunks of white highlights and then soften everything in with delicate hatching. As usual I got ahead of myself and did a bit of detailing in the shell.

I wasn't sure how the wood would hold up to the finite crosshatching but I had gone over it with a few glue washes and it has done surprisingly well.

At this stage I was unhappy with how it looked. I was thinking it was starting to look like half a vinyl record. I ignored such thoughts and pushed on. I finally carved out the entire shellfish and cut a few more hunks of highlight material out. Tomorrow I'm going to focus on more finite detailing and hopefully by this Saturday I may be able to pull a proof! I will be very excited at that prospect!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Limulus emerging

Well, I am very much excited to have finished the DNA border on my Limulus print. I started this print in January and here spring is to usher me on to the final stages of this block! Today I cleared out much of the surrounding wood from the border and carved the perimeter of the Limulus' shell. You can see the myriad of wood used to construct this piece of plywood and each piece has been a pain in my ass. None the less they were each one a lesson learned. I'm going to be carving out the Limulus itself on Tuesday and I'm a bit nervous about that. The border was hard because there was so much detail and repetition that is was more of an exercise in endurance than anything else. The horseshoe crab I want to approach just right so that the intricate border is complimented by a skillfully executed subject. I will be referencing woodblock artists who have carved dark pieces but still conveyed depth. The border is mostly lines with some solid shapes but the horseshoe crab will be mostly solid shape with white lines conveying depth. Like I said.... I'm nervous!
Those two lung shaped pieces on either side of the Limulus' tail will stay. I am leaving those large pieces in to help support the damp paper when I go to print. I am hoping that this will also registration as the paper won't sag out of register as much with those extra supports. I have had the experience that when leaving such pieces, an errant pressure from the baren will leave a tell tale mark from the edge. I have gone over the edges with a sanding block so that the supports will hopefully not print up.
Finally, the block was christened today when I drove my shallow u-gouge into a cranky spot and busted a knuckle. You know a print will turn out good if it draws blood.